Basic Definitions of Frequently Used Herbal Terms

Basic Definitions of Herbal Terms

Alterative: cleansing, restoring; long term usage typically required.

Analgesic/Anodyne: reduces pain

Anti­bacteria/Anti­microbial/Ant­infective/Antiseptic: prevents and/or kills infection

Anti­emetic: prevents or stops nausea and vomiting

Antispasmodic: relieves muscle spasms/cramps; may be smooth muscle and/or skeletal muscle

Anti­tussive: helps stop coughing

Astringent: constricting / tightening / properties – specifically to mucus membranes; tastes dry and puckery.

Bitter: Cools/reduces inflammation, eliminates infection, stimulates digestion, soothes nervous system.

Blood Purifier/Depurative: enhances functions of kidney and liver to ‘clean’ blood, also aids in absorption of nutrients

Colic: spasm, cramping of intestines (seen often in infants), typically due to gas. Herbs that ease colic are called Carminative.

Deobstruent: (de obstruct) breaks up stagnation

Demulcent: soothes and coats mucous membranes

Diaphoretic: induces sweating

Diuretic: increases the flow of urine; rids the body of excess fluid.

Emollient: Softens and soothes the skin, aids in healing process.

Immuno­stimulant: stimulates the immune system into functioning at a higher capacity and/or provides nutrients that are lacking to support the immune system. (Synonymous with Adaptogen)

Marc: The refuse matter (herbs) that remains after the liquid (menstruum) has been pressed out.

Menstruum: any solvent (typicaly liquid) used for extracting medicinal compounds from plants

Nervine: Nourishes / Soothes the nervous system; may also sedate (sedative).

Refrigerant: relieves fever and thirst, lowers body temperature; cooling

Stimulant: increases internal heat, increases metabolism and circulation.

Styptic/Hemostatic: stops external bleeding; stems bleeding (See Astringent)

Synergistic: the sum is greater then the individual parts.

Tonic: nourishing, supports whole body; exerts a gentle strengthening effect on the whole body.

Vulnerary: aids in healing wounds; protects wounds from infection and stimulates cell growth for healing.

Trophorestorative: Nutritive balancing action on the body; usually organ/system specific. Corrects deficiencies & weakness by providing vital nourishment.

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